Great post Andy.
Nice to think you consider me well educated - but like you, I am an
autodidact. I left school at 16 to go surfing and never went back. I don't
think that formal education is necessarily the best way to learn, even
though I've worked in Universities, on and off, for many years. The most
important thing about universities is that they are relatively safe places
where you can experiment and take risks that would be difficult in the world
of industry or commerce. For students it is a short-lived opportunity of
perhaps only a few years. For those who work in universities it is great to
sustain that sense of play and adventure - although there is a lot of crap
on the downside too.
The question as to whether it is important if something is digital or
analogue depends on a number of factors. For my own practice it is an
important issue. Medium specificity is important in my practice, especially
the role of code and the semi-autonomous character of the works that I make.
They are not stable objects or artefacts in the sense that many artworks
are. They manifest as temporary instances of events that function in the
performative. Their purpose is to be part of other events and to transform
and/or reveal something in that mix. This could be done with analogue media
but given that nearly all computers are digital it's unlikely. My father is
a first generation computer scientist and he worked for two decades or more
with analogue computers. His area was real-time mathematical modelling of
rockets and until the 70's digital systems were not fast enough to do that
work. Since the 70's he has worked with digital systems though as they are
more controllable and flexible.
However, there is more to the digital than computers. If, as Alan and I
discussed, the digital is a subset of the discrete and language is itself a
discrete system then either discrete systems are a subset of language or
language a sub-set of the discrete. I would suggest the latter. The question
then arises whether digital systems are within the set of languages or an
overlapping set. I would suggest the former. Terry Winograd proposed that
computers are writing machines - simple, nothing else, machines that are
writing. Not machines for writing (although they can be used for that) but
machines that are writing. Hayles also has some nice thoughts on this topic.
If you are an artist who is interested in writing as well as automation (and
all the subsequent questions around agency and representation) then the
digital (or otherwise) status of the medium becomes critically important. It
is part of the conceptual architecture of the work, part of its ontology.
However, not all artists who use computers are interested in this stuff.
On 22/03/2011 13:39, "andy gracie" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi all
> A few more random-ish thoughts on this subject.
> As much as I'm enjoying reading the thoughts of people much more
> educated than I am, like Sean, Simon, Ele... just about everybody in
> fact; deep down I'm still questioning the need to search for
> definitions of analogue and digital, as well as many other terms that
> are used to refer to certain kinds of cultural activity, creativity
> or 'art'. Is it just a convenience, so we can say łthats what that
> is˛ and łthats what this is˛? Or do we really need to pin it down for
> other reasons? Obviously in the harsh world of day to day survival we
> need to be able to communicate the difference between bread and
> molten rock clearly and with precision, but in the world of the arts,
> culture and society i'm still not convinced its so necessary. The
> very term 'new media art' is obviously referring to works that are
> now using media developed in the last century, so beyond being a
> handy peg to hang things on its basically meaningless. I feel that
> trying to pin down what kind of media or form of expression an artist
> is using mainly serves to direct us away from what the work actually
> is... what it represents, what it means, etc etc. Unfortunately,
> being a not very educated, autodidactic, non-acedemic i'm struggling
> for juicy quotes to back this idea up. Obviously its no ground-
> breaker though.
> I think an idea which has been emerging is that its actually very
> difficult to seperate the two, and that the two may in fact be a one.
> Maybe unless an artist is specifically using their work to dicuss
> dichotomies between analogue and digital process (and again, someone
> would need to help me come up with examples of such work), then we
> should accept that there is a 'third thing' formed by the use of
> combined media and processes and enjoy the work on more important
> As has been mentioned, our way of perceiving, interacting with and
> enjoying art is pretty much analogue anyway. My computer uses digital
> processes but it is an analogue thing. I can't touch or get direct
> physical feedback from what's happening inside it, I can't get my
> fingers in there and manipulate the processes as they happen. The
> purely digital is seperate from us, inaccessible and alien. Maybe
> people like Stelarc and Kevin Warwick are closer to dissolving this
> barrier, but most of us need some kind of haptic and therefore
> analogue - feedback to perceive what is happening digitally.
> Finally, I was reading this morning that progress is being made with
> quantum computing with the development of the RezQu architecture
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12811199. There have
> already been some beautiful references to the strange continuities
> and wackiness that happens once we approach the quantum level, and
> I'm certainly looking forward to the discussions on 'Analogue/Digital/
> Quantum' art that we will be having in a decade or two's time...
> ||||<web>|||||::: hostprods dot net
> ||||<blog>|||||::: hostdev dot wordpress dot com
[log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask]